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Anatomy of Windows Drivers

June 16th, 2011 No comments

Have you ever wondered why it sometimes seems so difficult to get a new gadget, a new device, or a new peripheral to work with your PC? Have you ever tried using a printer or a scanner and found that its functionality turned out to be just a bit more limited than you were led to expect? If either of these events has happened to you before, then you probably know by now that the main cause of tech headaches such as this is rooted in the Windows driver itself. So just what do drivers do anyway, and why are they so important?

What’s the Big Deal About Drivers?

There are literally hundreds of computer device and manufacturers around the world, each of them made to different designs and specifications. All of these devices need to work with Windows operating systems in order to tap the large market of PC users out there. The thing is, for a device to work with a certain operating system, the two need to speak a common language so that they can interact properly – this is what a driver does.

Drivers are software that allows hardware to be recognized and used by a PC running a certain operating system. This is why almost every piece of computer hardware sold usually comes with a CD that contains all the software you need to install and run it properly. With the right drivers any device, regardless of its age or origin, can be used with your computer without any problems.

Driverless Devices?

You might have noticed that some devices, especially common ones like USB flash drives and input devices such as a computer mouse seem to be what is commonly described as ‘Plug and Play’, meaning they work readily after being plugged into your PC without the need for the driver installation process. The truth is, these devices require drivers as well, it’s just that the drivers are already pre-installed in the Windows operating system itself.

Think about it. Way back then, when flash drives were new and Windows 98 was still the dominant OS on the market, you had to install a driver for every new variety of flash drive you plugged into your PC. The process was, to say the least, quite tedious and bothersome.

When Windows XP came out, generic support for USB storage devices was integrated into the operating system, which allowed users the freedom to use as many different types of flash drives as they wanted.

Update Your Drivers Regularly

Because they’re so important to the smooth function of your PC and its attendant gadgets and peripherals, it’s essential that you make sure that you get the latest versions of all your device drivers whenever you can. Updated drivers have the advantage of resolving any bugs and unlocking even greater capabilities from your devices.

You can also improve hardware functionality by updating your copy of Windows as well, since the regular updates and service packs Microsoft releases often include more generic drivers for common devices as well as better native support for other peripherals. Use our Driver Scan Tool to scan and update the drivers in your computer, it might very well save you problems down the road.